Sumanta Banerjee Marx adda

In one part of the recently translated Spooky Encounters, Sumanta Banerjee chats with the picnicking ghostly Marx and Engels about Indian food in London:

‘Fish-and-chips has almost disappeared from the scene. Its exclusive position has been now taken over by chicken-tikka-kebab!’

They glanced at each other in sheer astonishment and said, ‘Really?’

Moor spoke with his usual fervour: ‘We must get to taste your food. But can we find the genuine stuff here? Most likely we will have to go to youir Calcutta to sample them.‘”

P25

I am so very pleased to see this and would have happily used it as a preface to my essay ‘Marx in Calcutta’ in City. Seems like we have always been tempting Marx with Mishti Doi:

https://hutnyk.files.wordpress.com/2018/10/marx-in-calcuttacity2018.pdf

Marx Trot on again in 2019?

The Marx Trot is going to return in the summer 2019. Stay tuned for details.

 

In the meantime, some old reading (the original posts have comments but you’d have to search). At the end I also post some links to the Lord Sothhampton pub, thanks Stephen Emms (possibly now sold, or a youth hostel) and to some Dickens family stuff since they lived on the same street as the Marxs in the early 1860s (Marx family at no. 9. Dickens’ mother, widowed sister-in-law, and two nieces). Alos a piece on the Marx houses, again, thanks Stephen Emms. All the stuff gathered for the Marx Trot will be familiar, but the story of the walks, the kids, the sore feet, phots, riot squad visit (really), the beers, confrontations with crypto hindu-fascist nazi sportscar madness hippies and buffet meals in honour of Mao is a story still to be told in full.

 

The Marx Trot 2009

Marx is buried in Highgate. So we start  at the end. Meet at the East Cemetery gate at 4pm. Watch the film ‘High Hopes’ beforehand if need be. Bring cigars.

The Marx family would often walk from Haverstock Hill to Soho, so we can too. As its a nice day. We’ll walk through the park. Hamstead Heath in fact, though other parks might distract our thoughts. Marx took part in a Hyde Park demonstration against the Sunday Observance laws and wrote an article on the Anti-Church demonstration of July 1855. We can read this on the way and contemplate the production of nature.

At the far end of Hamstead Heath is a favourite pub of the Marx’s – so we could visit Jack Straws castle. I found the following info on a cursory search:

Jack Straws Castle

NW3

Jack Straw’s Castle ought to be the perfect place for an inspiring pint. The situation is good, the history intriguing and the ghosts distinguished. Karl Marx drank here on the corner of Hampstead Heath, high above the foul air of 19th-century London. So did Charles Dickens, Leigh Hunt and Max Beerbohm. Jack Straw himself – one of the leaders of the peasants revolt of 1381 – allegedly rallied his pitchfork-wielding mob from a haywagon nearby.

From here we can walk down Heath Street to Chalk Farm and Grafton Terrace.

Marx lived at 3 Roxburgh Terrace, now part of Prince of Wales Road Kentish Town. Then he moved to 9 Grafton Terrace. He drank at the Lord Southampton on the corner of Southampton and Grafton. We’ll obviously have to spend some time here.

Then we head to central London.

Marx fenced in a salon off Oxford street – in Rathbone Place (not far a from Tottenham Court Rd tube).

The Manifesto was drafted and approved at (according to internet gab – which I suspect is apocryphal):

The Red Lion, Soho [Closed] – pub details

Address: 20 Great Windmill Street, London, W1D 7LQ

Not many people know this but this pub is where Marx and Engels and others used to meet, where the first meetings of the Communist Party were held and where the Communist Manifesto was initially drafted and approved. This is a historic building in the history of Politics and it should have a Blue Plaque on it. I hope the people that live there when its converted know the relevance of this place.

Now apparently reopened as an “AT One” – we could I suppose heckle them a little [its an awful bar – heckle a lot – they have no idea where they are, adn beers were 4 quid for a bottle of sol – pah!]

When he first came to London Marx lived on Dean Street – We can visit Marx’s House and Blue Plaque – its on the second floor.

Then across to the British Museum. Obviously. There will be a test on your recall of particular passages from the footnotes. Someone will recite the bees and architects passage.

And finally, though I disagree with much of what Comrade Germain has done with Stop the War (or rather unstop it), here I think there is a hint of what is to be done as the evening closes in – a crawl up Tottenham Court Road starting at the Rising Sun.

“Karl Marx and Frederick Engels were refugees following the defeated 1848 revolutions in Europe. Marx wrote Capital in the reading room of the British Museum. He and Engels enjoyed pub crawls on Tottenham Court Road” [from an article by Lindsay Germain]

And by then wee should be able to make up our own after dinner entertainments. I do think one day a less ad hoc version of this walk is necessary – and I will prepare it – but this seems ok for starters. Leaving now.

 

Marx Trot 29.5.2011

Hi all,

As promised in one of the last lectures of Capital and Cultural Studies this year, it is proposed that we convene for ‘The Marx Trot’ on Sunday 29 May 2011
.
This involves various cultural social and political highlights, including visits to Marx’s grave, a couple of houses Marx lived in, Engles house, the pub in which the Communist Manifesto was adopted by the International Workingmen’s (sic) Association, some other places Marx and Engels drank in, and so on. Its mostly pubs…
.
The day includes multiple options. Some of them are worthy and educational. The rest involve beer.
.
It is suggested that we meet at Red Lion Square at 1.30 pm. The Alternative Press Fair is on, zines like Nyx, The paper, and …Ment have a table, we can go support them, or something. Peruse the other rags and lament the demise of Pravda.
.
Then get to Archway by 3.00 PM, in time to be at Highgate Cemetery, a ten minute walk, for 3.30pm (you do the math).
.
After that, visits to Marx’s houses, local pub, Hamstead Heath, and in into Soho…. and on into the evening. Dinner as and when (chinese in Soho?) and other insurrectionary fun.
.
Sound like a plan?
.
red salute.
John
.
ps. Notes from a previous Marx Trot are here. Pic From Sascha.
.
pps. There are plenty of very excellent reasons to come out to Goldsmiths this month too – talks by Mick Douglas, Ishita Banerjea-Dube, Nawal el Saadawi – see here.
.
ppps. for the 29th, the Alt PRess Fair here,
25 Red Lion Square
London WC1R 4RL
020 7242 8032

Underground: Holborn

but feel free to join later on the route.

if all else fails – 4pm at the grave. Bingo cards for the dead comms buried nearby might be a good idea.:
.
Highgate Cemetery Opening times:  from 10 am weekdays, 11am weekends

Closing time:   5pm British Summer Time (last admission 4.30pm) 4pm British Winter Time (last admission 3.30pm)

Please note: the Cemetery only accepts cash.

Entry:  £3 per adult / £2 for students with valid NUS card or equivalent

 

Marx Trot 2012 – July 7

Notice. The date has just been announced – The Marx Trot this year will be on July 7. Hurrah! Leaving from Archway tube 2:30 pm, then to Highgate Cemetery Marx’s Grave about 3pm – heading across the Heath to the old man’s local on Grafton Terrace – and onwards to Engels’ house, then to the pub – now crappy cocktail bar – where the Manifesto was adopted by the Communist League, and much more… All welcome.

,.

Last year’s trot (and links to previous) here: https://hutnyk.wordpress.com/2011/05/21/marx-trot-29-5-2011/

.

Pics of the houses: http://www.marxists.org/archive/marx/photo/london/index.htm

 

Marx Trot 2013 – July 7

karl-marx-grave-highgate

All welcome. A day of revolutionary dawdling, pints, and ending up awash somewhere on Tottenham Court Rd… The annual Marx trot this year will be on July 7. Lal Salaam!

We will again be leaving from Archway tube 2:30 pm, then to Highgate Cemetery Marx’s Grave about 3pm – heading across the Heath to the Lord Southhampton pub which was the old man’s local on Grafton Terrace – then onwards to Engels’ house, then to the pub where the Manifesto was adopted by the Communist League, – now a crappy cocktail bar – and more… All welcome (kids could surely come for the first couple of hours – but warning, its a longish walk across the heath between Highgate and the Grafton Terrace HouseBYO libations for the first part.

.

Last year’s trot = https://hutnyk.wordpress.com/2012/07/03/marx-trot-2012-july-7-2/

(and links to previous) here: https://hutnyk.wordpress.com/2011/05/21/marx-trot-29-5-2011/

Pics of the houses: http://www.marxists.org/archive/marx/photo/london/index.htm

Other links:

http://www.alphabetthreat.co.uk/pasttense/pdf/communistclub.pdf

The Great Windmill Street venue is where Liebknecht says the Manifesto was adopted by the League of the Just/German Workers Educational Association/Communist League – but some say it was at the White Hart in Dury Lane. In any case Marx lectures on Capital at Great Windmill Street, but see here:http://www.alphabetthreat.co.uk/pasttense/pdf/communistclub.pdf

For Leninists – a diversion on the trot might take in Charing Cross station, and areas near Kings Cross and Pentonville:http://sarahjyoung.com/site/2011/01/16/russians-in-london-lenin/

Dancing the first international! http://history-is-made-at-night.blogspot.co.uk/2009_10_01_archive.html

A pub crawl with Karl http://www.mytimemachine.co.uk/pubcrawl.htm

 

Marx Trot 2014

Marx Trot on sunday 13 July, starts at 2.30 archway tube…\

<note, May 2016, the next Marx Trot is planned for August 14, 2016. More details on this blog soon. This is just a date holder>

Mshelfie

A day of revolutionary dawdling, pints, and ending up awash somewhere on Tottenham Court Rd… The annual Marx trot this year will be on Sunday 13 July. All welcome. Lal Salaam!

We will again be leaving from Archway tube 2:30 pm, then to Highgate Cemetery Marx’s Grave about 3pm – heading across the Heath to the Lord Southampton pub which was the old man’s local on Grafton Terrace – then onwards to Engels’ house, then to the pub where the Manifesto was adopted by the Communist League, – now a crappy cocktail bar – and more… All welcome (kids could surely come for the first couple of hours – but warning, its a longish walk across the heath between Highgate and the Grafton Terrace House BYO libations for the first part).

[word to the wise: bring some tinnies in a bag – and sunscreen, umbrella as weather dictates and dosh for dinner (possibly in a footba-oriented venue). The early part of our route involves considerable walking – on the heath – kids are very welcome for the first few hours but after 7.00 it possibly gets a bit adult oriented – well, I mean we visit pubs Marx used to haunt – gespenst-like – in Soho. Mostly harmless, but its cup final night]

Previous trots = https://hutnyk.wordpress.com/2013/07/05/marx-trot-this-sunday-2-30-archway-tube-2/ and https://hutnyk.wordpress.com/2012/07/03/marx-trot-2012-july-7-2/and here: https://hutnyk.wordpress.com/2011/05/21/marx-trot-29-5-2011/

Pics of the houses: http://www.marxists.org/archive/marx/photo/london/index.htm

Other links:

http://www.alphabetthreat.co.uk/pasttense/pdf/communistclub.pdf

The Great Windmill Street venue is where Liebknecht says the Manifesto was adopted by the League of the Just/German Workers Educational Association/Communist League – but some say it was at the White Hart in Dury Lane. In any case Marx lectures on Capital at Great Windmill Street, but see here:http://www.alphabetthreat.co.uk/pasttense/pdf/communistclub.pdf

For Leninists – a diversion on the trot might take in Charing Cross station, and areas near Kings Cross and Pentonville:http://sarahjyoung.com/site/2011/01/16/russians-in-london-lenin/

 

see also Lincoln Alpern: https://hutnyk.wordpress.com/2014/06/30/lincoln-emery-alpern-says-come-to-the-2014-marx-trot-in-this-teaser-from-last-year-marx-london/

 

Marx Trot Sunday August 14, 2016 #Marx #walkingtourlondon

This year the Marx Trot is planned for August 14, 2016

Meet 1pm Archway Tube.

bring enthusiasm, vox pop speechifying, money for drinks, drinks, sunscreen (we hope we will need suncreen).

Pic above is from the Maidan, in the area near Rani Rashmoni Avenue, Lenin Sirani, S.N.Banerjee Rd,  Kolkata, West Bengal.

Previous Marx Trot itinerary (roughly followed each time): We will again be leaving from Archway tube, then to Highgate Cemetery Marx’s Grave – heading across the Heath to the Lord Southampton pub which was the old man’s local on Grafton Terrace [they also sell juice] – then onwards to Engels’ house, then to the pub where the Manifesto was adopted by the Communist League, – now a crappy cocktail bar, so we prob won’t enter – and more… All welcome (kids could surely come for the first couple of hours – but warning, its a longish walk across the heath between Highgate and the Grafton Terrace House BYO libations for the first part).

[word to the wise: bring some tinnies in a bag at the start – and sunscreen, umbrella as weather dictates and dosh for dinner (if interested in Mao’s favourite London place late on). The early part of our route involves considerable walking – on the heath – kids are very welcome for the first few hours but after 7.00 it possibly gets a bit adult oriented – well, I mean we visit pubs Marx used to haunt – gespenst-like – mostly harmless]

 

Sort of part of this course in Nottingham:

https://hutnyk.wordpress.com/2016/06/30/reading-capital-in-nottingham-every-wednesday-11am-from-july-20-until-28-sept-2016/

.

__

Pics of the  Marx/Engels houses:

http://www.marxists.org/archive/marx/photo/london/index.htm

Other links:

http://www.alphabetthreat.co.uk/pasttense/pdf/communistclub.pdf

The Marx Trot is Party agnostic and non sectarian, except against Tories, other social fascist parties, brexit-racist pogrom enablers, and the majority of the Parliamentary Labour Party, with 40 or so exceptions.

Previous trots were =

https://hutnyk.wordpress.com/2014/06/29/marx-trot-2014/

https://hutnyk.wordpress.com/2013/07/05/marx-trot-this-sunday-2-30-archway-tube-2/

https://hutnyk.wordpress.com/2012/07/03/marx-trot-2012-july-7-2/and here: https://hutnyk.wordpress.com/2011/05/21/marx-trot-29-5-2011/

 

The Great Windmill Street venue is where Liebknecht says the Manifesto was adopted by the League of the Just/German Workers Educational Association/Communist League – but some say it was at the White Hart in Dury Lane. In any case Marx lectures on Capital at Great Windmill Street, but see here:http://www.alphabetthreat.co.uk/pasttense/pdf/communistclub.pdf

For Leninists – a diversion on the trot might take in Charing Cross station, and areas near Kings Cross and Pentonville:http://sarahjyoung.com/site/2011/01/16/russians-in-london-lenin/

All hail our boozers: #1, Lord Southampton, NW5

 

In a new weekly series, we go behind the scenes of a popular local boozer. First off, meet landlady Martha Mcgrath

A well-used dartboard at the Lord Southampton. All photos: Stephen Emms/ LBTM ltd
A well-used dartboard at the Lord Southampton. All photos: Stephen Emms/ LBTM ltd

Firstly, congratulations. With 43 years under your belt, we hear you’re the longest serving publican in the borough of Camden. How did you end up in this corner of NW5? 
I grew up in Ireland and we came over here when I was 17. We had a place in Blackfriars first, and in those days it was promotion to come to a bigger venue like this. When we took over in 1972, we were familiar with the area because my family already had pubs nearby: the Rose & Crown on Torriano Avenue was owned by my sister and brother-in-law in the late ‘60s, while the Exmouth Arms in Starcross Street was run by my brother.

Martha McGrath sitting by the open fire. Photo: SE
Martha McGrath sitting by the open fire. Photo: SE

What was the area like back then?
Queen’s Crescent, the high street nearby, had a Woolworth’s, a Sainsbury’s – it had it all.So tell us about the pub.
There were two fireplaces, a wall by the jukebox, and another where the arch is now, plus saloon, public and private bars. There was an off-license too, which the brewery got rid of in about ’74. There was also a bridge to the toilets (pictured), which remains. The whole back area was called the Kelly Bar, with a porthole and other memorabilia originating from the HMS Kelly Ship, commanded by Mountbatten in the Second World War. Sadly it was cleared out one day many years ago when we were on holiday.

What’s this about a Karl Marx connection? 
A pub was first put on a map in this position in 1752, apparently, but this building dates back to the 1850s. Yes, Karl Marx used to come in, but rumour has it that he wasn’t very generous. He liked people to buy him drinks rather than spending his money, so he’d have one or two, then go up and down the road knowing he’d bump into acquaintances who’d then shout him a pint.



A quirky bridge leads to the gents toilet. Note the inaccessible doors from the railing. Photo: SE
A quirky bridge leads to the gents toilet. Note the ‘floating’ doors, inaccessible from the railing. Photo: SE

Fast forward to 2015: what’s it like nowadays?
Much harder. Drinks are expensive, people haven’t got the money, and we’re competing with the supermarkets.Who are your customers now?
Four-fifths are regulars and very nice people: all men, a few women – but it’s a man’s pub, really – all in their forties or older. Our oldest is just coming up to eighty; youngest is in his thirties.

What about doing some food?
Years ago I used to do sandwiches and stuff like that, but then the building works in Maitland Park stopped. Now it’s all residential so people are not going to bother coming out to the pub to eat, are they? Very few of them go out for a meal round here. And as we’re up the backstreet not everyone knows we even exist. When I won an award for being the longest serving publican in Camden they had to look for us to find out where we were. So if they can’t find us, how do you expect to find customers?

Hopefully you’ll get a few more now that this is out.
Hopefully!

Handsome exterior. Photo: SE
Handsome exterior on the corner of Grafton Terrace, opposite St Pancras Almshouses. Photo: SE

What are your funniest memories? 
There are quite a few but they’re all too rude for publication. I mean rude. But loads of celebs have come in over the years: Chris Moyles, for a couple of years with his gang. Getting back a bit there was Peter o’ Toole, Pete Postlethwaite, Bananarama – it was the first pub they drank in when they arrived round here – and quite a few Eastenders. Bill Nighy was a very young boy when we came here, training in the old Bubble Theatre in Southampton Road.Any unusual customers?
My husband Phil is like Dr Doolittle: when he goes out to the park, he feeds everything. One day we were here and in comes a squirrel and it sits on the floor, waiting for some nuts. We’ve also had a fox wander in and have a walk around. And one of our regulars, Brian, arrives with his snake now and again.

Finally: we hear you’re up for sale? 
Yes, it’s true. We’ve not signed anything yet but loads of people have been in. Some are wanting to do more food. We’ll have to see. But whatever happens, we’ll still stay living in the area.

Find the Lord Southampton at 2 Southampton Road NW5. Next week: we meet Ben McDonald from The Junction Tavern.

 

 

“learned scribes” – Marx to Kugelman 1868

Marx writes to his publisher-friend to explain, clearly, why it is a critique of political economy:

And then the vulgar economist thinks a great discovery has been made when, as against the revelation of the inner interconnection of value and things, the proud claim is that in appearance things look different. In fact, the boast claims to hold fast to appearance, and takes it for the ultimate. Why, then, have any science at all?

But the matter has also another background. Once the interconnection is grasped, all theoretical belief in the permanent necessity of existing conditions collapses before their collapse in practice. Here, therefore, it is absolutely in the interest of the ruling classes to perpetuate a senseless confusion. And for what other purpose are the sycophantic babblers paid, who have no other scientific trump to play save that in political economy one should not think at all?

But satis superque [there you go, and then some]. In any case it shows what these priests of the bourgeoisie have come down to, when workers and even manufacturers and merchants understand my book [Capital] and find their way about in it, while these “learned scribes” (!) complain that I make excessive demands on their understanding….

From 11 July 1868 letter of Marx to Kugelman. Marx and Engels, Selected Correspondence, Moscow, 1955, pp. 250-53. The bold and the italics (except the Latin) are mine, to highlight the choice slurs, and the consequences.

Edit: Lenin says of this: ‘ It is only to be hoped that every one who begins to study Marx and read Capital will read and re-read this letter when studying the first and most difficult chapters of that book’ (Lenin: Published in 1907 in the pamphlet: Karl Marx. Letters to Dr. Kugelmann, edited and with a preface by N. Lenin. Novaya Duma Publishers, St. Petersburg. Published according to the text of the pamphlet.
Source: Lenin Collected Works, Foreign Languages Publishing House, 1962, Moscow, Volume 12, pages 104-112. https://www.marxists.org/archive/lenin/works/1907/feb/05.htm#bkV12E034)

what do you call that reorder edit – on a crooked line of Marx

Screenshot 2018-12-17 at 13.30.47

                               Transpose

Marxownp431867.png
In Marx’s own copy of the 1867 edition of Capital, we can see he changes a few things. I wonder when.
There are more changes in the copy of the first page of another of his editions, but in this one there are reasons to speculate and maybe go far too far down the rabbit hole of hermeneutics. So, facing up to the Cheshire Cat, I want to ask if anyone else finds it interesting that on page 43, for example, Marx underlines/circles/corrects the word order in the sentence:
Nur als Erscheinungsform ihres eignen Werths interesierte die Steifelwaare der Steifelknecht.
I’m not at all sure about Steifelwaare, but maybe this can translate as:​ Only the appearance form of its value is interesting in the boot to the boot maker. (Ie, its value as something the bootmaker can sell).
In his correction, Marx wants to smooth the expression out so as to reverse the order of die Steifelwaare and der Steifelknecht. So Der Steifelknecht die Steifelwaare (probably den). This can then be: ‘Only the appearance form of its value is interesting for the maker of the boot’ (my trans – not sure).
Does it matter? It seems the sentence was completely removed from the next revision (most people read the 4th Edition, or translations based upon it – but Marx revised in 1872 for the french serialisation, so unless all the changes from the hand annotated editions can be collated and dated…) so I suspect it matters not that very much. Nevertheless, if clarity of expression was key, this may be because speaking voice is crucial in the very next sentence, which was not removed – the very famous:
Konnten die Waren also sprechern, so werden sie sagen, unser Gerbrauchwerthe mag den menschen interesieren. Er kommt uns nicht als Dingen zu. Was uns aber dinglich zukömmt, ist unserer Werth. Unser eigner verkehr als Warenendinge beweist das.
If commodities could speak, what would they say: our value as commodities interests men. This come to us not as things. But what comes to us is our value. Our traffic as commodities shows that. (my trans)
The idea that commodities might speak at all is fetishism, the filthy little gossips. So we want to know what they would say, and to whom – since it implies a listener. Is it the owner or the maker or the buyer they chat with? And why do they speak in the voice of a 19th century political economist? They speak like that for the rest of the paragraph, though there is also a little reverse ventriloquy from Dogberry, who thinks it natural to write.

Worker or Labour

Note for later… on the difference between worker and labour. Is it not obvious there are questions to ask here about demarcation – is a worker everyone under capital? Are there worker hierarchies that are more than strategies of containment/control – setting x worker up against y, a buy-off of the worker elite, dumping of disposable workers, erasure of all other possible modes of being subject to the bullshit of work that is neither fulfilling or worthwhile (to who?), alienated work v. work you would do no matter what

In Marx: the concept of worker and labour power shift analytically across the book of Capital. Under capitalist relations the workers sell their labour power (capacity to labour, more productive than the cost of reproducing it) but not all labourers are so lucky (misfortune) to be able to sell their labour power. The unemployed, partially employed, the drifters and vagabonds, the mothers and children in training, the elderly are also all responsible to maintain their capacity to work, their labour power, even when not in employment as workers. Marx uses simple reproduction in his examples in the earlier chapters of capital, but if you read just the introduction of chapter 16 (Ch14 n Tieng Viet I think, the start of Vol thu Nhât, Phân 1) you see him explain about the narrow and the wide notion of the productive labourer, and also introduce the concept of the collective worker. The worker in the narrow sense produced surplus value, indeed value in general, the collective worker would include those that do not produce surplus value, but help other people produce it – for example as a teacher, when I am not producing a profit for the university boss, I add to the capacity of the students to produce surplus value, I do not produce that value myself except as part of the collective labourer. Again, it’s very important that Marx not be read without a dialectical conception of all of his categories, including worker – we actually discussed just this in relation to the early parts of Hegel that we read together.

Yet again to re-read the start of Chapter 16 (TV 14) – the difference between a sausage factory and a university is negligible. Hilarious and fun Karl.

‘Citizen Marx/Kane’ in “Marx at the Movies”, 2014

Citizen Marx/Kane’ – Hutnyk

This chapter addresses the question of how, today, to start reading that rich book that is Marx’s Capital — of which an immense, even monstrous, accumulation of commentary on the Marxist mode of literary production appears to have already shaped its elementary forms. In reading Capital, if anything about beginnings should be considered necessary, it is usual to say it is good to start at the beginning — not always of course, but usually to start with what is immediately at hand. Commentaries, primers, prefaces, intros, first sentences and first chapters start at the beginning and continue on from there. This is itself debated, but my argument is that we can only approach Capital through the already existing commentary, even as we would like to start as if the book were new. And the commentary that exists is not only that which is explicitly marked as such, but also includes all the ideas we have already received about so many things — about Marx, capitalism, communism, exchange, commodities and so much more. A vast accumulation of things filter reading, so it would be naive to simply say that materialism might start with things themselves, even if it makes sense to start with commodities, the objects that are the souvenirs or detritus of our lives.

Keywords

Capitalist Class Capitalist Mode Moral Testimony Commodity System Film Poster 

Screenshot 2018-12-09 at 11.35.23

Multitude redux Empire: wrong way, don’t go back, we should leave too.

People got wishful thinking a lot, and I am always for breaking the borders, but as this can be read from afar, I reckon yes, but the prognosis offered below by Hardt and Negri back in the Empire day ends up objectively anti-communist – the wrong side is lauded as abandoning the discipline of the system. What if rather, all the exploited under capitalism had pushed at the wall the other way, the former soviet block might not be a pit of cowboy corruption and proto-fascist gangsterism, but rather a renewal – walls can fall both ways, and maybe H&N were pushing the wrong way. I don’t mean everyone should now move to Mexico, but abandoning the shopping centre queues in favour of a Leninist discipline supporting an organised alternative to empty glitz is a long term better solution for all rather than this multitude exodus which does tend to me to sound a bit like Pol Pot’s year zero as well.

“A specter haunts the world and it is the specter of migration. All the powers of the old world are allied in a merciless operation against it, but the movement is irresistible. Along with the flight from the so-called Third World there are flows of political refugees and transfers of intellectual labor power, in addition to the massive movements of the agricultural, manufacturing, and service proletariat. The legal and documented movements are dwarfed by clandestine migrations: the borders of national sovereignty are sieves, and every attempt at complete regulation runs up against violent pressure. Economists attempt to explain this phenomenon by presenting their equations and models, which even if they were complete would not explain that irrepressible desire for free movement. In effect, what pushes from behind is, negatively, desertion from the miserable cultural and material conditions of imperial reproduction; but positively, what pulls forward is the wealth of desire and the accumulation of expressive and productive capacities that the processes of globalization have determined in the consciousness of every individual and social group—and thus a certain hope. Desertion and exodus are a powerful form of class struggle within and against imperial postmodernity. This mobility, however, still constitutes a spontaneous level of struggle, and, as we noted earlier, it most often leads today to a new rootless condition of poverty and misery. A new nomad horde, a new race of barbarians, will arise to invade or evacuate Empire. Nietzsche was oddly prescient of their destiny in the nineteenth century. ‘‘Problem: where are the barbarians of the twentieth century? Obviously they will come into view and consolidate themselves only after tremendous socialist crises.’’ We cannot say exactly what Nietzsche foresaw in his lucid delirium, but indeed what recent event could be a stronger example of the power of desertion and exodus, the power of the nomad horde, than the fall of the Berlin Wall and the collapse of the entire Soviet bloc? In the desertion from ‘‘socialist discipline,’’ savage mobility and mass migration contributed substantially to the collapse of the system. In fact, the desertion of productive cadres disorganized and struck at the heart of the disciplinary system of the bureaucratic Soviet world. The mass exodus of highly trained workers from Eastern Europe played a central role in provoking the collapse of the Wall. Even though it refers to the particularities of the socialist state system, this example demonstrates that the mobility of the labor force can indeed express an open political conflict and contribute to the destruction of the regime. What we need, however, is more. We need a force capable of not only organizing the destructive capacities of the multitude, but also constituting through the desires of the multitude an alternative. The counter-Empire must also be a new global vision, a new way of living in the world… If in a first moment the multitude demands that each state recognize juridically the migrations that are necessary to capital, in a second moment it must demand control over the movements themselves. The multitude must be able to decide if, when, and where it moves. It must have the right also to stay still and enjoy one place rather than being forced constantly to be on the move. The general right to control its own movement is the multitude’s ultimate demand for global citizenship. This demand is radical insofar as it challenges the fundamental apparatus of imperial control over the production and life of the multitude. Global citizenship is the multitude’s power to reappropriate control over space and thus to design the new cartography.”

Thanks J Adams for the reminder of this bit of Empire

My longe essay critiquing Empire is here

%d bloggers like this: